As a parent at HFP and a mom in Portland, I am feeling incredibly fortunate today. Our co-op spent the morning at Tryon Creek State Natural Area, where our little ones got to explore the forest ecosystem with the tools they love to practice using every day: their five senses (well, maybe not their sense of taste – the salmonberries, we discovered, weren’t ready just yet!). I was reminded yet again of what an amazing gift it is that Tryon is part of Portland proper – it is, in fact, Oregon’s only state park within a major metropolitan area. If you haven’t yet had a chance, I strongly encourage you to check it out!
As we headed off to explore the woods, our nature guides encouraged us to notice the sights, sounds, and smells around us – and even invited us to gently feel some of our region’s forest flora and fauna. That banana slug: he left a sticky trail! The thimbleberry leaves: wow, how velvety soft (now we know why it’s dubbed the “toilet paper plant”!). The Pacific wren: his little brown body would have been easy to miss were it not for his joyful springtime song!
Many thanks to our nature guides, who came to us through a partnership between Tryon and PSU’s environmental education program. Their love for our Northwest forest ecosystem was contagious, and after all they taught us this morning, I know my son and I both will always remember that Oregon grape is our official state flower.
Kristine Stanik (Ansel)